Delhi Culture Minister Kapil Mishra Wednesday accused the RSS of threatening and intimidating artists, including a French national, for painting Urdu text on a wall as part a project undertaken by the Delhi government.
Mishra wrote to Police Commissioner Alok Verma, saying Delhi Police had failed to take action against “RSS members” who allegedly cornered the artists and threatened them against painting the Urdu text. ”I demand that police take immediate action against members of the RSS who indulged in such a heinous act against our artists and violated all the laws of the land. I hope the police will become more sensitive to the diverse social fabric of Delhi.”
The incident took place on May 20 in Shahadara. The Delhi Tourism department had partnered with ‘Delhi, I love you’ (DILY) — a movement to celebrate Delhi’s art and culture that has painted walls including those at Northern Railways, Saket Multi-specialty Hospital and Ambedkar University — for a #MyDilliStory, a twitter-based competition inviting people to post anecdotes on Delhi. The best 40 entries would be painted on walls across the city.
An Urdu couplet was chosen for the Jal Board wall at Shahadara. The couplet read, “Dilli tera ujadna, aur phir ujad ke basna. Woh dil hai toone paya, saani nahi hai jiska (Oh Delhi, you were ruined and you overcame your ruin to settle. No city has a heart like yours).”
DILY artist Akhlaq Ahmad and French artist Swen Simon were painting the wall when 10-15 men showed up and asked them what they were writing in Urdu, said Ahmad. “They told us they were from RSS. They said we could not write in Urdu on the wall. Swen was manhandled and our paint was strewn all over. They told us to paint the wall saffron, write Swachch Bharat Abhiyan and Narendra Modi on the wall,” said Ahmad.
“We had permissions. They asked us if we were Pakistanis… They called the foreign national with me Pakistani, Kashmiri, Lahori etc.”
“It’s tragic that while DILY is working… to popularise Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi, our artists get roughed up by alleged RSS men for writing Urdu poetry,” said Aastha Chauhan, director, DILY. Meanwhile, RSS prachar pramukh (Delhi unit) Rajeev Tuli said, “We heard of the incident only after Mishra’s press conference. I doubt his claims… The matter should be probed… Let the truth come to light.”
DCP (north east) A K Singla said they had received a call about a foreign national writing on the wall in a “foreign language”. “The PCR team went to the spot and verified their permission to write couplets on the wall in Urdu. They were then allowed to write,” said Singla, adding there was no confirmed presence of RSS members at the spot.